Miyamoto Almost Pulled the Plug on a Sanity Effect in Eternal Darkness

The legendary designer thought that the development team were setting Nintendo up for trouble.

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 05/13/2019 07:00 Comment on this     ShareThis

Eternal Darkness remains one of the most beloved games of Nintendo’s GameCube era. Its unique mechanics are a big part of why Eternal Darkness has the legacy that it does. One of those mechanics, the Sanity Effects, represented a really powerful bit of game design on the part of developer Silicon Knights. In a recent interview with IGN, however, it was revealed that one of those effects was at risk of being cut at the behest of Nintendo stalwart designer Shigeru Miyamoto, himself!

Here’s the account, transcribed from the IGN interview:

“There were some ones that almost got cut, and we again sat down– literally sat down– with Miyamoto and many of the crew at NCL and that made it in. That made me so happy… what it showed to me was how much Nintendo cares about their consumers. As game developers, I think we work for gamers. That is rule number one. The particular Sanity Effect that I’m referencing here is the one where it starts deleting your memory card really slowly. That was my personal favorite. I sat down and made sure that sort of meter went really slow enough for people to start screaming.

So Mr. Miyamoto sat down with a bunch of engineers and said, ‘Denis, what if someone looks at that, gets really angry, and throws their GameCube against the wall because they think it’s bugged out?’ And he goes, ‘Is that our fault?’ It caught me. I was like, ‘I don’t know. Maybe.’ And he goes, ‘Well, what do we have to do for customer service for that? Have you thought of that?’ I was like, ‘I haven’t.’ He goes, ‘Have you ever seen anything like this before?’ I was like ‘No.’ And he goes, ‘Well what do you think?’ And I said, ‘I think because you’re saying have we ever seen this before, that we should do it, because I don’t think anyone has done this before.’ And he sat back, and everyone looked around, and they’re like, ‘We think this is really risky, but we’ll do it.’ And that’s what I remember most.

With Eternal Darkness, we pushed a lot of barriers. Eternal Darkness was not a typical Nintendo game. And when you look at the whole lovecraftian mythos, it doesn’t appear in any other Nintendo franchises, right? The whole idea that they would walk down that road with us and think about it… that is not a typical game that comes out of Nintendo, and they were on board, so far to even with that example. I had never considered that possibility. There’s a lot of good will that went into that, and they just believe in gamers. I said to them, ‘I think that experience will be something that gamers will remember forever.’

Pretty interesting stuff. Breaking the “fourth wall” and interacting directly with the player on a level beyond the game itself has been a staple of the industry for many years. From dipping the instruction manual in water in StarTropics to the infamous encounter between Solid Snake and Psycho Mantis in Metal Gear Solid, video games have been host to all sorts of interesting ideas like these for a long time. That Nintendo had the faith to trust Silicon Knights’ plan wouldn’t result in angry lawsuits from players says a lot about the company’s dedication to innovation and experimentation in its games.

Source: IGN

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